Steven L. Isoardi is an independent scholar; editor of
At the Crossroads: The Ark and UGMAA in the 1980s
The economic devastation and elimination of arts and music programs within the schools and throughout the city curtailed the Arkestra's audience and potential recruits. The loss of CETA funding, the Shop, nonprofit status, and the IUCC were crippling blows, and the end of easy access to public spaces, declining support for the arts, and the failure to enlist the next generation would also severely restrict the organization. Throughout its history, the Arkestra had experienced periodic waves of artists leaving but was always replenished with a fresh infusion of young, committed talent. By the early 1980s the next generation was being ground under by an oppressive socioeconomic situation, left with fewer resources within the community, and artistically moving in a different direction by reshaping the debris of postindustrial America into new art forms, such as rap.